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July 11, 2006

The Art Department
Posted by Patrick at 09:21 PM * 106 comments

Tor’s absurdly talented art director Irene Gallo has a blog, already replete with good advice to aspiring SF and fantasy artists:

This applies more to artists that have been in the industry a decade or two but let this be a cautionary tale for young artists: Itís not a great idea to always use your girlfriend/wife in every painting. As people get older their sense of what is fashionable sometimes ends shortly after college. Itís slightly painful when I see a figure in the painting whose clothing and/or hair is clearly from the 80s. (Fantasy paintings are amuck in mullets!) Unless itís a historical piece, costuming should attempt to be as timeless looking as possible. Looking ďdatedĒ is the kiss of death for an illustrator. (Menís fashion doesnít seem to be as identifiable so I donít often see this problem in male figures.)

Comments on The Art Department:
#1 ::: Michael Croft ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 09:51 PM:

The late Tim Hildebrandt used to use his wife Rita as a model for a lot of fantasy covers. He used to tell the story of one book he did the cover for where Rita complained bitterly that Tim had added pounds to her. He replied that the character in the book was described that way and he should've added more. She pouted for a while, until the Art Director came back with his comments where were, in their entirety "She's kinda...chunky." It took her a while to laugh at that, but Tim laughed right away.

But yeah, in the cover I posed for for Tim in the mid-1980s, I have feathered hair and so does the guy who wants to stab me.

#2 ::: Rasselas ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 10:27 PM:

Words to live by, really.

#3 ::: Christopher B. Wright ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 10:56 PM:

I'm going to need those retro artists when my "Mulletworld" trilogy gets published.

#4 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 11:24 PM:

At a risk of going off on a tangent:

"Zippy the Pinhead" author Bill Griffith and his family posed for SF artist Ed Emshwiller:

"But my favorite was the cover Ed did for the September, 1957, issue of "Original Science Fiction". It shows me, at thirteen, hijacking a rocketship to the moon. On the "vue-screen", angrily urging me to get my head out of the clouds, is my chastising father. There couldnít have been a more perfect metaphor for our strained relationship."

http://www.zippythepinhead.com/pages/beatnik.html

#5 ::: Luthe ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 12:30 AM:

All this makes me think of is the filk classic "There's a Spaceship on the Cover of the Book." To wit:

There's a spaceship on the cover of the book (2x)
The story never leaves the planet, but it needs a spaceship, dammit, so
There's a spaceship on the cover of the book

There's a bimbo on the cover of the book (2x)
She is dumb and she is sexy, she is nowhere in the text, she is
The bimbo on the cover of the book

There's a raygun on the cover of the book (2x)
It's a philosophic story, but the cover must be gory, so
There's a raygun on the cover of the book

There's a monster on the cover of the book (2x)
He is big and he is hairy, though the story's not that scary
There's a monster on the cover of the book

There's a white guy on the cover of the book (2x)
The heroine is black but with art that cuts no slack, so
There's a white guy on the cover of the book

#6 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 02:57 AM:

A lot of that article is about technicalities and presentation. The "Background" point is connected with what those of us with a photography background will know as "aerial perspective".

And I saw the Poser reference. That program makes so much so easy, but the hard parts are still there. And I see a lot of exaggerated facial expressions too--the Condi Rice school of acting.

Anyway, you get the British-published computer graphics magazines (not just CGI stuff) and they say the same things about getting into the real world of commercial art, after art school.

#7 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 04:56 AM:

What do timeless hairstyles look like?

#8 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 07:43 AM:

First, Nancy, as the recent discussions of feminism and hack work showed, one must define a timeless hairstyle. My own hairstyle is reaching closer and closer to timelessness as I get older, and my pate balder.

#9 ::: Thena in Maine ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 07:43 AM:

There are two timeless hairstyles:

Shaven / buzz cut (great for anything military or futuristic, especially on scantily-clad females.)

Completely uncut (great for anything fantasy, historical or alt-historical, especially on males with bulging muscles.)

Unfortunately, these are both so cliche...

#10 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 08:05 AM:

Completely uncut (great for anything fantasy, historical or alt-historical, especially on males with bulging muscles.)

Or, Thena, like thewless Geoffrey Rush in Mystery Men...

#11 ::: Jim Teacher ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 08:15 AM:

Is there no room for ironic mullets in sci-fi/fantasy?

#12 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 08:32 AM:

I want to say that ... it's a good thing I'm not an illustrator.

Cause my taste did kind of get locked in in the '80s. Poodle hair and an off-the-shoulders dress is HAWT and no amount of reality will convince me otherwise.

#13 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 10:02 AM:

"Mulletworld". Hee hee. Graphic novel, or just straight text in which one is subtly reminded every so often that all the characters have mullets?

In terms of timeless cuts, there's also the Caesar cut. Or you could emulate Larry Niven and make up your own skiffy haircuts to go with your skiffy slang and swearwords!

Or, alternatively, everyone wears hats.

#14 ::: Winchell Chung ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 10:07 AM:

Stefan Jones mentioned how "Zippy the Pinhead" author Bill Griffith and his family posed for SF artist Ed Emshwiller. The painting in question can be seen in these poor reproductions:

http://www.bertramchandler.org/chandler/covers/OriginalScienceFictionSept1957.htm
http://www.westcitycorporationplc.co.uk/html/shop/product.php/1189/96//cf2cfa940da8ecc5ecc9b86a63c54fab
and
http://www.projectrho.com/rocket/rocket3ad.html
(scroll to bottom of page)

#15 ::: Northland ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 10:42 AM:

Poodle hair and an off-the-shoulders dress is HAWT and no amount of reality will convince me otherwise.

But how do you feel about purple taffeta, Sandy? My prom photo features all three of the above... I think you'd find it scorching.

#16 ::: Jack Ruttan ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 10:56 AM:

I think the problem is more to do with that airbrushy side-of-van realism you see a lot of in fantasy art. Certainly the Hildebrandts and Boris suffer from that. Frank Frazetta maybe gets a little away from it, but that depends on your taste.

The watercoloury-spidery people who follow Rackham perhaps date less, but you don't find them as much on the covers of paperbacks.

Of course, the challenge for artists is finding a personal style that won't date, either, but stuff does go in and out of fashion. All you can do is just draw what you like.

#17 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 10:59 AM:

Amusing to see David Cherry use Carolyn as a model for her own books though.

#18 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 11:09 AM:

Is Frazetta dated, Jack, aside from his women having more of a tummy than is now considered appropriate?

And what about the Dillons?

#19 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 11:11 AM:

To somebody with a little knowledge of heraldry, the idea of a mullet as a hairstyle is disconcerting.

#20 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 11:13 AM:

To somebody with a little knowledge of heraldry, the idea of a mullet as a hairstyle is disconcerting.

It's even worse when you think of mullets primarily as fish.

#21 ::: Jack Ruttan ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 11:43 AM:

That's really why I left it up in the air. I love the Dillons, (not to mention "Emsh," Frank R. Paul, and scratchy duo-toned magazine illustrations from the 50s and 60s. And painted scenes from the "Gold Key Treasury of Knowledge.") But there's always someone (usually my illustrator friend, who understands most of my references), who gets a big whiff of patchouli from such things.

And slightly pot-bellied barbarians of either gender are a nice switch.

(hair aside: I'm afraid the more authentic bowl cuts and tonsures still aren't cool, though some can pull it off.)

#22 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 12:28 PM:

Jim Teacher: Is there no room for ironic mullets in sci-fi/fantasy?

Don't know if it's meant ironically, but in the anime series Ghost In The Shell, one of the least cyberized regular characters, Togusa,
is described as having a "thick mullet" ( described in that Wikipedia link; if you watch an episode, you see this for yourself ).

ajay: Or, alternatively, everyone wears hats.

This is probably a good idea. People aren't wearing enough hats.


#23 ::: Jack Ruttan ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 01:43 PM:

Maybe that wasn't too clear, but _I_ don't think they're dated, though they probably speak of a certain time and place to lots of readers.

I think the early 70s was a great age for fantasy illustration, what with the Dillons, Frazetta, Vaughan Bode, John Schoenherr - off the top of my head. Of course, that's when I was coming into my teens.

#24 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 01:56 PM:

Winch notes:

"The painting in question can be seen in these poor reproductions"

Wonderful! The kid in the painting is *recognizeably* Bill Griffith.

I like the use of the bewildering array of comicks and art to illustrate points on the spaceship rho pages. (A sapient wolf using duct tape to maneuver in zero G? Why not!)

#25 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 02:47 PM:

Rob Rusick: well, how many hats should a person wear? At one time, I mean.

#26 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 02:59 PM:

That depends, Xopher: Does he already have a wig for his wig?

#27 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 03:12 PM:

I think it's also important to remember that the average person has slightly more than one head.

#28 ::: Rasselas ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 04:33 PM:

Dear Mr. President:

People are not wearing enough hats. Please do something about this. I am not a crank.

Yours,

Abraham J. Simpson

#29 ::: jennie ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 04:34 PM:

Xopher, a person should wear as many hats as he or she can without them tumbling off, getting blown away, or being knocked off by doorways.

Unless of course, the individual in question is attending the theatre or opera.

#30 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 05:47 PM:

Even then, jennie, persons named Bartholomew Cubbins may wear up to five hundred hats at all times.

#31 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 06:06 PM:

jennie: or stolen by monkeys.

#32 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 06:06 PM:

jennie, I would suggest that certain other considerations be included...it's quite possible to wear sufficient hattage that one can no longer walk, for example, without crossing any of the boundaries you enumerate.

TexAnne, but that just happened to happen, and it's not very likely to happen again. And if it did, people would say "Oo! Blek!"

#33 ::: Avery ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 06:27 PM:

Hey! I'm running with more or less completely uncut and in the past year or so Analog and Asimov's have put out any number of stories that could have been set in my office.

I could explain the difference between my office and current/near future "Big Corporation where SCIENCE! gets done" settings, but then I'd have to poike you a few times to wake you up.

#34 ::: TChem ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 06:35 PM:

Lila: you posted as I was searching for the identical book. Thank you for not allowing me to be the only one in the room with that thought.

#35 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 07:28 PM:

a person should wear as many hats as he or she can without them tumbling off, getting blown away, or being knocked off by doorways

Wiscon tested this last year; at the big-evening-thing (aka dessert buffet ++) they adorned Jim Hudson with hats for his roles as chair, art show director, treasurer, and I forget what-all else. IIRC he ended up with ~6 gold top hats stacked, all under a tiara for Webmistress.

#36 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 11:41 PM:

Xopher: well, how many hats should a person wear? At one time, I mean.

It does strike me as a peculiar phrase (I couldn't get the link to align directly with the intended quote).

I'm riding down the road, and I'm thinking "This would be a lot easier, if there weren't cars parked on both sides of the road." It makes perfect sense to me, and seems like reasonable English, but I know that there is no car parked on both sides of the road (if we prohibit quantum metaphors, which are probably inappropriate anyway).

Re: Hats, people not wearing enough of, I'm sure it's implied that no one person is required to wear more than one hat (but that isn't what was said, was it?). I don't imagine anyone is prohibited from wearing more than one.

I'm working on an animation project with some friends, and I had been thinking that for the closing credits, we could each list our names and the 'hats' we wore (modeling, texturing, etc.), rather than the traditional 'Job description' headers. Many metaphorical hat options for everyone.

Back to illustration, the notion of having our models wear hats so that we don't have to embarrass ourselves by illustrating out-of-fashion hairstyles is interesting for its own sake. But then, we'd be stuck with dated hat styles.

I once read a pamphlet outlining animation techniques, written by Terry Gilliam for the BBC (and I could have bought it for five dollars!). After demonstrating a classic character walk cycle, he showed that by having the character walk through tall grass (or past a low fence), the animator could save plenty of time by not having to animate the legs at all.

Okay, the point of that was that not having to animate the legs was like not having to illustrate the hair. But (feeling efficient) if my character is wearing a paper bag over [his/her] head, I could save time not having to draw a mouth, nose, eyes...

It is becoming an increasing hard sell as a cover art illustration.

I'm a big fan of Paul Lehr and Richard Powers. Could I paint some glowing lines?

#37 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2006, 05:31 AM:

I know that there is no car parked on both sides of the road (if we prohibit quantum metaphors, which are probably inappropriate anyway)

It could be a very, very big car. Or the street could be a funny shape...


#38 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2006, 08:52 AM:

She is dumb and she is sexy, she is nowhere in the text, she is
The bimbo on the cover of the book

I remember, at a convention once, somebody advancing the theory that the real reason The Revelation of St John was included in the New Testament canon was that the marketing department had already commissioned cover art featuring a half-dressed bimbo and a dragon with seven heads...

#39 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2006, 10:07 AM:

In Boston and Cambridge, many of the streets are one-way, with parking on both sides and two lanes of traffic between. You can pretty routinely find double-parked cars that partially block the second lane - thoughtless jerks who had actually managed to park on both sides of the road. Worse yet is multiple, successive double-parked cars, resulting in inadvertent slalom courses. Not to mention double-parkers who don't put their hazard lights on - if they don't put their hazard lights on when they stopped in the middle of the street, exactly what do they think the little button with the triangle on it is for?

#40 ::: Mary Aileen Buss ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2006, 10:17 AM:

debcha: Keeping time on the radio?

#41 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2006, 10:41 AM:

what do they think the little button with the triangle on it is for?

Secong the question! I've seen people driving with their flashers on, not slowly, and apparently not disabled (except perhaps mentally).

#42 ::: mythago ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2006, 12:30 PM:

"Caps! Caps for sale! Fifty cents a cap!"

#43 ::: G. Jules ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2006, 01:04 PM:

PJ Evans: I may be one of those people, depending on what your definition of "slowly" is. I sometimes drive with my emergency lights on, when it's heavy traffic and it isn't practical to get into another lane and the person in front of me is one of the idiots who thinks the safest way to deal with Boston traffic is to drive under the speed limit and hope all those other cars go away. (Memo to idiots: It's not.)

Re: Mulletworld: Having everyone in mullets would be cool, but giving the mullet some kind of plot significance would be even cooler. Like, the quality of your mullet -- its adherence to some platonic ideal of mullet-ness -- determines how many super-cool powers you get. Meaning, of course, that the villain would be doing research into the ideal mullet, and the heroes would have to break into his heavily guarded fortress to try to steal the secret -- and of course they'd get caught, and the villain would shave their heads. But then the hero would be able to access his magical mullet-powers anyway to save the day, because the true platonic mullet is a state of mind -- a state of being -- a sort of innner mullet-ness that can be imitated, but never matched.

Wow, did that comment not go where I thought it was going. Right. Teatime.

#44 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2006, 01:30 PM:

Mulletworld (...) the heroes would have to break into his heavily guarded fortress to try to steal the secret

Does anybody have McGyver's phone nbr?

#45 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2006, 01:30 PM:

... the quality of your mullet -- its adherence to some platonic ideal of mullet-ness -- determines how many super-cool powers you get. Meaning, of course, that the villain would be doing research into the ideal mullet, and the heroes would have to break into his heavily guarded fortress to try to steal the secret -- and of course they'd get caught, and the villain would shave their heads.

Ah, suddenly the story of Samson and Delilah makes sense.

#46 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2006, 04:45 PM:

mythago, don't make me get my monkeys!

#47 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2006, 05:56 PM:

"mythago VS. the Monkeys" - Sounds like an MST3K movie to me.

"This would be a lot easier, if there weren't cars parked on both sides of the road."

How about "This would be a lot easier, if there weren't cars parked on each side of the road." Or "either side," but that's ambiguous.

People just don't use 'each' enough. "They both loved one another," my Aunt Jess's corns!

#48 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2006, 08:21 PM:

G. Jules: and then Woody Allen would do a dubbed parody of an Oriental spy film, all about the search for "a mullet so good you could plotz", and people would go back to worrying about important things like Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, ....

#49 ::: Scott ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2006, 09:39 PM:

Xopher said: "I think it's also important to remember that the average person has slightly more than one head."

OK, then - a mullet for the big one and a merkin for the other (where appropriate). Or vice-versa. Whatever makes your Jello jiggle...

#50 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2006, 10:01 PM:

Oh, I wasn't even thinking of that. Wow, the average person has slightly more than 1.5 heads!

#51 ::: Wim L ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2006, 12:04 AM:

How about "This would be a lot easier, if there weren't cars parked on each side of the road."

How about "And I would have gotten away with it, too if not for those meddling cars parked all over the place"?

#52 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2006, 12:07 AM:

Wim L, could you come here for a moment?

*thwack*

Wish I'd thought of that, in other words.

#53 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2006, 12:49 AM:

We live in mullet-land here, it's still a fashion. Yikes. I don't do bars or stuff like that, but I see people with that hairstyle walking up and down Main, and in Westport, etc, in midtown here.

The hairstyle is especially prominent when we have a NASCAR meet and I'm out working at our Ren Faire (blocks from the NASCAR track). Yes they have mullets. Both boys and girls. BUT for the most part they spend money when they come our way, so I ain't complaining. the NASCAR traffic at our Ren Fest doesn't see a $125 price tag on a nice piece of jewelry as a hinderance to buying it, which the rest of our somewhat redneck audience does.

#54 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2006, 08:08 AM:

So that's what a mullet is...

Just shows how well I keep up with fashion.

#55 ::: Thena (still in Maine) ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2006, 08:43 AM:

ajay: I used to live on a little side street whose arterial end was flanked by a couple of warehouses. The street, unstriped, was legal for parking on both sides and two way traffic, but in practice it had approximately three lanes whose usage varied in no particular order. It was especially interesting when a semi would come to unload at one of the warehouses because it would, in fact, have to park on both sides of the street at once. Needless to say this did impair traffic a bit (for definitions therof equivalent to "Screw it, I'm going around the block.")

debcha: Boston's street grid was laid out by the Elder Ones. If the traffic ever unsnarls, the stars will align themselves and They will rise from the deep. (Anyone who has ever looked out the window while landing at Logan will understand why this is so. Tentacles, man! Tentacles! They just call them highways...)

#56 ::: John ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2006, 11:07 AM:

Unfortunately, hairstyles only look dated in hindsight. An artist might carefully make one look "timeless," but in the best possible case s/he won't know how amusing it is for many years.

#57 ::: Ben ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2006, 03:53 PM:

Muller + Nascar + Corona = Sounds like the ingredients of the next bid midwest abduction short. Wouldn't you think. + How can hair really go out of style?

#58 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2006, 07:56 PM:

"mythago VS. the Monkeys" - Sounds like an MST3K movie to me.

I note today that Lila, hats off to 'er, wrote the script before I could take a stab at directing it. Well, meh. I'll be clever next thread.

#59 ::: Shannon ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2006, 12:05 AM:

debcha: Boston's street grid was laid out by the Elder Ones. If the traffic ever unsnarls, the stars will align themselves and They will rise from the deep.

I believe that in Good Omens, Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett somewhat suggested such a thing as well. In the story, one of the main characters, a minor demon, takes credit for not only creating the confusing mess, but for designing it so that it actually forms a demonic symbol. So that every time traffic went around it, it traced this symbol, creating an inherant atmosphere of evil around it. Very amusing book.

#60 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2006, 01:44 PM:

John: Unfortunately, hairstyles only look dated in hindsight. An artist might carefully make one look "timeless," but in the best possible case s/he won't know how amusing it is for many years.

A related notion: the art forgery which initially succeeds, becomes evident as a fake with the passage of time. The forger captures some 'essense of the artist' (as the artist is seen in that time) and fools his contemporaries (the audience of that time). With the passage of time, the public's sense of the original artist recalibrates, and the forger's work stands out in contrast.

#61 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2006, 01:44 PM:

Thena: Boston's street grid was laid out by the Elder Ones. If the traffic ever unsnarls, the stars will align themselves and They will rise from the deep.

I am agnostic. I don't I believe in the Elder Ones, but I don't feel comfortable ruling out possibility of their existence. I prefer the separation of church and state; MD (Malevolent Design) should be kept out of the science class.

#62 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2006, 08:07 PM:

And civil engineering.

#63 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2006, 08:10 PM:

it does explain rotaries, however, which make no sense otherwise.

#64 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2006, 11:00 PM:

it does explain rotaries, however, which make no sense otherwise.

*Gasp* THAT'S what they're doing in the basement of the Rotary Club!!!!!!

#65 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2006, 12:06 AM:

Xopher: You might want to look at this.

#66 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2006, 01:46 PM:

Greg: rotaries make perfect sense in civilized countries, especially where there's not enough traffic to justify an interchange; I had no problem with them the last several times I drove in Britain. Better design helped, including the markings that required explicit lane changes if you wanted to stay in the rotary, but they require a cooperative attitude to start.

#67 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2006, 03:13 AM:

The supernatural road in Good Omens is the M25 motorway around London, rather than some tangled inner-urban knot.

#68 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2006, 03:17 AM:

Hairstyles are often a dead giveaway for when a film was made. Unless you use wigs a lot, you're rather stuck with what doesn't look wrong when the actors aren't working.

#69 ::: odaiwai (formerly dave) ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2006, 11:06 AM:

Swindon's Magic Roundabout

I just wish they had signs like "keep to turnwise, pass on widdershins."

#70 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2006, 08:56 AM:

Now I've got a Vandals song stuck in my head again...

I've got an ape drape, yes I do
They're giving them to everyone and that means you
You could go to Norco and get one too
Then you'd have a ape drape like I do!

(Repeat for "Mullet", "Shawm", "Achy breaky hair", etc.)

#71 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2006, 07:53 AM:

The problem of dated hairstyles in art is not a new one, it seems; as with so much else, the ancients had it first:


"On a less elevated artistic level, imperial styles in hairdressing rapidly spread to the rest of the population and have become a useful method for dating statues."

-- The Roman World, 44 BC-180 AD, Martin Goodman (chapter "The Extent of Cultural Unity")

#72 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2006, 09:14 AM:

Well, yeah, but if you're gonna date a statue your name better be Pygmalion. Proving again that it helps to have friends in high places.

Though I can imagine a production number from some mislaid Busby-Berkeley-on-Broadway epic, in which a crowd of professors in tight suits and shirtwaist dresses are discreetly admiring statuary at the Metropolitan, when a shadow passes over the moon* and the ladies and gentlemen step down from their pedestals to dance.

Midway through, one could segue from Warren & Dubin to "Rainy Day Women #12 & 35," too, but, well, you know.

*Yes, they didn't have the Karnak room then. They do now, and we still have b/w film.

#73 ::: JC ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2006, 09:41 AM:

Though I can imagine a production number from some mislaid Busby-Berkeley-on-Broadway epic, in which a crowd of professors in tight suits and shirtwaist dresses are discreetly admiring statuary at the Metropolitan, when a shadow passes over the moon* and the ladies and gentlemen step down from their pedestals to dance.

Well, there is One Touch of Venus, with music by Kurt Weill, lyrics by Ogden Nash, book by Nash and S.J. Perelman. A barber, hen-pecked by his fiance, puts a ring on a statue of Venus in an art museum which then comes to life as the goddess of love herself. It's the musical that the song "Speak Low" comes from.

It has a terrific score and an almost terrific book. (It only falters at the end because the authors could not really come up with a satisfying ending.) It's not really in any sense Busby Berkeley though.

#74 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2006, 10:20 AM:

CHip wrote: Better design helped, including the markings that required explicit lane changes if you wanted to stay in the rotary, but they require a cooperative attitude to start.

A cooperative attitude? In Boston, the place where it is the norm to make left turns as soon as your light turns green, directly in front of oncoming traffic? Where using your turn signals is considered a sign of weakness? Jeez. While it would be nice if rotaries were properly signed (with those cool signs that identify each of the exits, so you knew where you were going before you entered the rotary and could make good decisions), what we really need is for people to understand that whoever is in the rotary has the right of way, which seems like a simple concept. Failure of drivers to grasp this has led to much preemptive honking on my part to dissuade incoming drivers from trying to occupy the same space as me.

#75 ::: Sugar ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2006, 10:39 AM:

"On a less elevated artistic level, imperial styles in hairdressing rapidly spread to the rest of the population and have become a useful method for dating statues."

Reminds me of a bloke I knew when I was taking A-level Classical Studies; he did his main coursework on the different styles of pubic hair seen on Greek statues.

#76 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2006, 11:56 AM:

"On a less elevated artistic level, imperial styles in hairdressing rapidly spread to the rest of the population and have become a useful method for dating statues."

Again, I reference Procopius' "Secret History", which states


"First the rebels revolutionized the style of wearing their hair. For they had it cut differently from the rest of the Romans: not molesting the mustache or beard, which they allowed to keep on growing as long as it would, as the Persians do, but clipping their hair short on the front of the head down to the temples, and letting it hang down in great length and disorder in the back, as the Massageti do. This weird combination they called the Hun haircut" (pp. 35-36, Chapter VII).

"Reminds me of a bloke I knew when I was taking A-level Classical Studies; he did his main coursework on the different styles of pubic hair seen on Greek statues."

The Plain People of the Internet: Link! Link! Link, in the name of heaven!

#77 ::: Sugar ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2006, 12:39 PM:

Sorry, this was back at the dawn of time when everyone wrote on paper, and I can't find anything by Googling "pubic hair" "greek statues". I don't remember too much about the coursework itself, but the illustrations were apparently quite something. IIRC, it was put on display one open evening, and never recovered.

#78 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2006, 02:37 PM:

Oy, now I'm imagining Princess Leia in a toga-ized version of "Hairspray". Hair-headphones all around.

#79 ::: Steff Z ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2006, 06:25 PM:

What Procopius describes in ajay's post, geting back to our original theme, is a mullet.

The beard and 'stache don't prevent the rest of it from being a mullet. See, e.g., "Walker: Texas Ranger."

#80 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2006, 08:35 PM:

Perhaps the nadir of the "movie special" was the non-musical Movie of the Week featuring Vanna White in One Touch of Venus. Yark!

This, oddly enough, reminds me of the sensational female lead in "Real Genius" who shortly after the film was made quit acting. I've never figured out if the guy who made a web page of freeze-frames of her from the film is a Potential Stalker or just showing The Right Stuff.

#81 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2006, 11:14 PM:

Speaking of Bad Movie Physics, I saw Real Genius recently and was really surprised how much I enjoyed it, and Bruce, you are absolutely right how good that woman was--we are talking the nerdy obsessive one, right?

#82 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2006, 11:28 PM:

Real Genius was smarter and more enjoyable than a summer popcorn movie has any right to be.

I read, somewhere, that the screenwriter tapped some Actual Scientists (tm) to vet the dialog.

#83 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2006, 11:43 PM:

adamsj: Yes, that's her. The last time I tried the obsessive fan's page he'd found a couple short news items about her becoming (I think) a Yoga instructor and trying to sell a screenplay.

#84 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2006, 11:30 AM:

Now you've got me thinking about The Many Hairstyles (up to today's baldie) of tennis maestro Andre Agassi.... Styles change faster than they used to!

#85 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2006, 12:48 PM:

Speaking of movies about smart people... I'm not quite sure what to think of the Skiffy Channel's Eureka.

"What is it?"
"It's a big beam of death."
"A death ray. Why don't you just call it a death ray?"

By the way, is it a sign that you're an old fart if you remember that death rays are what lasers used to be called?

#86 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2006, 01:36 PM:

Oy, now I'm imagining Princess Leia in a toga-ized version of "Hairspray". Hair-headphones all around.

When these were popular in the 1920s, they were called cootie garages. That had previously been a slang term for earmuffs...'cooties' originally meaning actual lice, rather than simply the humiliation of being touched by a person of the opposite sex.

#87 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2006, 01:42 PM:

I'm having visions of the movie "Real Genius" dancing in my head. Val Kilmer was a college student who is building a laser death ray for his evil college professor.

"death ray" is a dated term. Now they call it a "Directed Energy Weapon". It's much more politically acceptable.

It's like calling it the "War Department" rather than the newer "Department of Defense".

#88 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2006, 01:48 PM:

Gah, I just realized what re-triggered it. I saw Die Hard last night and the actor who played the asshole reporter in Die Hard also played the asshole professor in Real Genius.

#89 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2006, 01:49 PM:

Laslow Ollifeld lives!

Don't know why, but I had to say that.

#90 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2006, 01:50 PM:

William Atherton was the evil college teacher, right, Greg? Of course, it has to be William Atherton, especially if Chris Sarandon isn't available.

#91 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2006, 02:07 PM:

yep, it was William.

I was sort of feeling a bit sorry for the guy for being so typecasted, but I just checked IMDB for him, and man he's been busy. Chris "I would not say such things if I were you" Sarandon too.

Speaking of typecasted bad guys, I can't look at the newspaper man on Deadwood without a part of my brain screaming "Principal Rooney!", the bad guy from Ferris Beuler's Day Off.

The doctor on Deadwood sometimes makes a part of my brain yell "Wormtongue!".

And while watching Spongebob, once in a while, a part of my brain will scream "The Kurgan!" The bad guy from "Highlander" does a voice for the TV cartoon, Mr. Crabs, I believe. Man, talk about messing with your head.


I'm Candy.
(growl) Of course you are....

Are you ready kids?
Aye, Aye Captain.
I can't hear you.
AYE AYE CAPTAIN.
OOOOHHH, Who lives in a pineapple under the sea?

Bits of my brain try to disconnect from other bits...

#92 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2006, 02:18 PM:

Wormtongue... That's Brad Dourif, another busy guy. I was going to ask how many crazy guys he's played since One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, but it'd be easier to ask how many non-crazy characters he's done. The Harkonnen's mentat. Besides that, what?

#93 ::: Ceri ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2006, 02:28 PM:

Brad Dourif...Doesn't he play the doctor in Deadwood? Another not-crazy character. At least not in the first season (which is all I've seen of the show).

#94 ::: Ceri ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2006, 02:33 PM:

Whoops. Duh. Should've read those last two messages more carefully. Ignore me.

#95 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2006, 02:36 PM:

Atherton plays the same part, though from a different scientific specialty, in "Ghostbusters."

Marshmallow-covered popcorn. There's a movie in that. Yes, it's a Brett Ratner* movie, but still little pieces of time jamming in a gate* and melting as the audience looks up from their mobile phones.

Throw in his comeuppance from "Day of the Locust" and we got box-office dynamite, or at least a box-office IED.

*On Phil Ramone's excellent series on movie music, "The Score," Ratner mentioned that his mother used to date Nile Rodgers. This was a thing I hadn't needed to know, and now you don't need to know it either. It even made me feel old, and I've felt old since I was two.

**Not necessarily a stargate. More often a characteractorgate.

#96 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2006, 02:49 PM:

A quick check of IMDB says that Brad Dourif has been in a lot of stuff that isn't my sort of material. He does the voice for "Chucky", horror doll extraordinaire, and has a number of other horror films under his belt. None of which I've seen.

#97 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2006, 03:33 PM:

Atherton plays the same part, though from a different scientific specialty, in "Ghostbusters."

ah man, I forgot. And that was one of my favorite scenes:

...we were doing fine until dickless here shut down the containment unit.

Is this true?

Yes, this man has no dick.

(fight ensues)

Well, that's what I've heard.

#98 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2006, 07:55 PM:

Once again demonstrating Bill M's genius at playing characters you wouldn't want in your home under any circumstances.

#99 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 10:48 AM:

And while watching Spongebob, once in a while, a part of my brain will scream "The Kurgan!" The bad guy from "Highlander" does a voice for the TV cartoon, Mr. Crabs, I believe.

Yes. (He's also been Lex Luthor opposite the most recent animated incarnations of Superman and the Justice League, which is interesting to know but not nearly as disconcerting.)

#100 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 11:07 AM:

He's also been Lex Luthor opposite the most recent animated incarnations of Superman

good for him. ever since that "Of course you are" scene, he's always had a special place in my heart. Glad he keeps getting work.

I wonder how much time it takes to voice a cartoon series, that you can do two at the same time...

#101 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 11:27 AM:

Oh, and Atherton's great in one of my favorite underrated movies, Oscar (1991). Basically the same role -- one of the bankers. Mistaken for Sid "The Shiv" Sapperstein by Lt. Toomey, if I recall correctly.

#102 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 11:53 AM:

Favorite underrated movie.... starring Sylvester Stallone???

please hold. my brain has just ejected and I must go retrieve it.

(shlop!)

Ok, what were we talking about?

#103 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 11:56 AM:

The actor playing the Kurgan is Clancy Brown. Remember him in TV series Earth 2?

#104 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 12:23 PM:

But Greg, have you SEEN it? Just forget he's ever played any action heroes. (Easy for me -- I never saw him in anything else before Oscar.)

#105 ::: Ailsa Ek ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 01:13 PM:

Harking back a day or two:

one of the idiots who thinks the safest way to deal with Boston traffic is to drive under the speed limit and hope all those other cars go away.

Driving under the speed limit is what you're supposed to do. That's why they're called "speed limits."

And our family is enjoying Eureka greatly at the moment, although we have no faith that the fun will last.

#106 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 08:06 PM:

I like Eureka so far, particularly Joe Morton who is doing a great job as the Magical Negro.

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